Flu activity is widespread right now across the United States. Tennessee has seen an increase in cases of flu over the past few weeks, and there have been 12 people who died from complications associated with the flu.
The Cumberland County Health Department offered free flu shots last week, and reports there is a limited amount of flu vaccinations available. These will be provided depending on age, insurance availability and health status until the supply is exhausted. Patients may walk in to request a flu vaccine any time during regular clinic hours of 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Health Department at 1503 S. Main St.
“Vaccination is the best protection against the flu, and the Cumberland County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine every year,” said Christy Brawner, nursing supervisor. “It takes about two weeks to be protected after you get the flu vaccine, so we want everyone who hasn’t had their flu shot to get one now.”
The vaccine supply is going quickly at the Health Department, and the injectable form for adults is no longer available. The nasal spray vaccine is only available to healthy individuals between the ages of 2 and 49 years of age.
The flu strain most affecting people this year is H1N1, which can affect children and young adults particularly hard. All flu vaccines this season are designed to protect against the H1N1 strain of the virus.
The flu can cause medical complications for those with underlying chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or neurological conditions; pregnant women; those younger than five and older than 65; and anyone with a weakened immune system.
Those at high risk for influenza complications should see their health care provider promptly if they get flu symptoms. Medication can shorten the duration of the illness and decrease severity. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.
Everyone should also practice frequent hand washing and cover the mouth and nose in the elbow when sneezing or coughing to reduce transmission. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated.
For more information, contact the Cumberland County Health Department at 484-6196.